With social media gaining importance in marketing, so are communities on various social media platforms and forums. Businesses have started to realize the importance of having a strong community of followers. However, running a healthy and thriving community can be quite challenging, especially as the community grows over time.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Reddit have become extremely popular when it comes to building online communities. Some businesses may even choose certain platforms specifically meant for their respective industry – such as Discord for gaming. With that said, it’s easy to see that all these platforms have witnessed a rapid rise of communities run officially by various businesses.
If you are a business owner planning to start building an online community, you can learn more about how you can set up community guidelines. You can also approach Viafoura – a leading digital experience platform, for more guidance.
What are community guidelines?
Community guidelines essentially consist of a set of rules laid down by the administrator or the moderators for the community members to follow. These guidelines inform the members about the code of conduct so that they act accordingly. Additionally, community guidelines also inform members about the actions that may be taken against them in case they fail to adhere to the said rules.
Why are community guidelines important?
So, why exactly do you need to set up guidelines when building a community? When you build a large community, it would naturally consist of various people who may not carry the same values or mentality. This can potentially lead to various disagreements between the members, which may spiral out of control in the absence of adequate guidelines. Here are some of the issues that may occur if you do not set up necessary community guidelines:
- Constant bickering and fights within the community can ruin its reputation and indirectly affect the brand image of your business.
- In the absence of any guidelines to keep things under control, communities can turn extremely toxic due to a handful of members. This would irritate other members and may cause them to leave.
- Unless you set up guidelines beforehand, you may face disputes once you take action against offending members to resolve an issue.
Hence, community guidelines are indispensable and help maintain order within a community.
Tips for creating community guidelines
If you are new to building and running communities, you might find the task of setting community guidelines to be quite daunting. Here are a few tips to make your job easier:
1. Start with the basics
If you are unsure about what guidelines to set, just start with the basics. There are certain guidelines that you’d find in almost every community, regardless of their purposes. These include:
- Being respectful to other members
- No racial discrimination
- No hate speech
- Not sharing private information
- Respecting others’ privacy
- No spamming
- No illegal activities
These are the bare minimum guidelines necessary in order to prevent any significant trouble from brewing within the community.
2. Add other relevant guidelines
Now that you have covered the basics, add other relevant guidelines. These are the guidelines explicitly related to the activities in the community. For instance, you may set guidelines regarding the very purpose of the community and the type of discussions that are allowed. This will help prevent off-topic posts and conversations in the community and keep the discussions relevant.
3. Keep it clear and simple
Do not use any jargon or complex phases that can make the guidelines hard to understand. Keep it as simple and readable as possible, such that every member knows what’s expected of them. This will help reduce instances of members violating the guidelines. Also, make sure that the rules aren’t vague in any way – they should be clear and specific. Not being specific about the guidelines can cause members to interpret them in their own ways.
4. Enforce penalties
Of course, you need deterrents to prevent the members from violating the community guidelines in the first place. These may include various penalties, such as removal from the community, muting, etc. Whatever penalty you decide to implement for a specific guideline violation, make sure the members know about it. When posting the community guidelines, either add a section that lists all the penalties or mention the penalties along with each guideline.
5. Choose the right tone
Community managers often underestimate the importance of choosing the right voice and tone when communicating the guidelines to the members. Remember, your approach to this directly impacts setting the overall tone for the community. As you lay down the guidelines, make sure to put up a firm impression while being polite and respectful at the same time.
Depending on the nature of the community, you may choose to give it a twist of humour too. No matter how you choose to present the guidelines, keep in mind that you’d ideally want all members to feel included. Try to leverage the guidelines to promote fairness and transparency, as these will benefit your business too.
6. Add a human touch
Adding a human element to the community guidelines can be surprisingly effective. If you have moderators or community managers whom the members can approach, make sure to name them. Communication between a brand and its customers is far better when the customers remember that there are real people behind the keyboard. Moderators publishing guidelines should add a personalized touch too.
7. Inform members on reporting violations
It’s not always possible for moderators to notice every community guideline violation, at least not immediately. Implement a complaint process that the members can use to report a violation and describe it within the guidelines.
When building an online community, setting up its guidelines is indispensable. They play a crucial role in helping run a community smoothly. You might even want to seek the help of experts from reputed firms like Viafoura to manage the community properly. An informed decision will make it much easier for you to run the community without a hitch.